You may be familiar with malaria, but did you know that malaria is one of the leading causes of death in the world?
From the World Malaria Report 2020 published by the World Health Organization, around 229 million cases of malaria infection occurred in 2019 with an average of 400,000 deaths. Most of the victims are children under 5 years old. Malaria is also most prevalent in Africa (around 90%), followed by Southeast Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
How Malaria Spreads
Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium. This parasite is carried by female Anopheles mosquitoes. Thus, malaria occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical areas, where the Anopheles mosquito can proliferate, as well as the plasmodium parasite.
This parasite is divided into four types, namely plasmodium vivax, plasmodium ovale, plasmodium malariae and plasmodium falciparum. Plasmodium falciparum is the most commonly found type and usually leads to severe malaria, often causing death.
Anopheles mosquitoes laid its eggs in water, then the eggs turned into larvae and grew into adult mosquitoes. During this process, the female mosquito will look for blood as food to take care of the eggs. They are usually active in search of "food" between dusk and dawn, and in the process can transmit plasmodium parasites to humans.
The transmission process of these mosquitoes also depends on the weather and climate. Usually, it reaches its peak during and right after the rainy season. In addition, densely populated areas (with little space to move around) will increase the likelihood of malaria outbreaks.
How Humans Get Infected with Malaria
When humans are bitten by mosquitoes infected with plasmodium parasite, the parasite will multiply in the liver and infect red blood cells. As a result, the parasites lodged in red blood cells. Therefore, malaria can be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ transplants, or the use of syringes from a patient infected with malaria. In pregnant women, malaria can also be transmitted to the fetus, either before or after birth.
However, there is no need to exaggerate the fear of contagion, because malaria will not be transmitted from person to person as easily as a flu, and cannot be transmitted through sexual contact. Malaria is also not transmitted through contact or contact with an infected person or contact with their objects.
Recognize the Symptoms of Malaria!
Malaria does not appear immediately when a person is bitten by a parasite-carrying mosquito. If a person's immunity is very good, then the possibility of being infected with malaria becomes lower. Meanwhile, for people with poor immunity, malaria symptoms usually appear 10-15 days after a mosquito bite.
The initial symptoms of malaria usually resemble flu, fever and headache. These symptoms are very common in other minor diseases, so it is difficult to identify as malaria. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common. If left untreated for a long time, malaria can also cause anemia and jaundice (the appearance of a yellow color on the skin and eyes) due to lack of red blood.
If an infected person is left untreated within 24 hours, the symptoms can quickly turn into serious illness (especially for the plasmodium falciparum type). Parasitic infections that cause malaria that are not treated quickly can cause complications such as kidney failure, seizures, mental disorders, unconsciousness (coma), and often lead to death.
Unfortunately, most areas with high malaria endemicity do not have adequate health and sanitation facilities. These limitations and the lack of public attention to malaria cases become some of the main reasons as to why the disease is reluctant to leave endemic areas.